The Washington Post titled its Wednesday editorial "The U.S. should examine allegations of chemical attack in Syria." But that is hardly where its argument ends. If it turns out that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on rebels, the newspaper wants America to respond with war.
Or to quote the euphemisms they used (emphasis added):
A White House statement issued Wednesday did not repeat the president's vow of no tolerance. Instead, it said that "those responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable," as if the matter could be handled by a criminal investigation. The administration urged the Syrian government to cooperate with a U.N. team that is already in Damascus to investigate previous chemical weapons incidents. It would be unprecedented for the Assad regime to comply.
The United States should be using its own resources to determine, as quickly as possible, whether the opposition's reports of large-scale use of gas against civilians are accurate. If they are, Mr. Obama should deliver on his vow not to tolerate such crimes -- by ordering direct U.S. retaliation against the Syrian military forces responsible and by adopting a plan to protect civilians in southern Syria with a no-fly zone.
Directly attacking Syrian troops, bombing Syrian air defenses, and grounding Syria's air force is war. Set aside the unsurprising fact that the newspaper didn't call on Congress, the branch vested with the power to declare war -- how quaint and provincial to imagine it might work that way!
What I want to focus on is the frivolity of this particular call for war. It isn't that any call for war against Syria would be automatically frivolous. As much as I would oppose American involvement, civilians in the country are suffering horribly. I recognize every outcome is sure to be awful.
There are hawkish cases I can respect even if I disagree with them.